January 1, 1932 - June 21, 2020
Janesville, WI -- Eugene "Gene" Arnold Nelson, 88, passed away with family by his side on Sunday, June 21, 2020 at Oak Park Place, Janesville. He was the first baby born in Beloit, WI on January 1, 1932, the son of Arnold "Arnie" and Theodora "Ted" (Gugdahl) Nelson. Thanks to his earliest of arrivals on the New Year's Day, the city bestowed the family with a free supply of coal and potatoes. Dad graduated from Beloit Memorial High School in 1950, attended the UW Madison and then served in the U.S. Air Force from 1952-1956. In 1958, he married Magda (Kavetschanky) in Janesville and they had four children: Dean, Mark, Karen, and David. He coached youth baseball, patiently taught his kids how to drive and took the family on many fun road trip vacations. Mom & Dad enjoyed many years of lively family gatherings, doubles tennis with the Kuklas and going out dancing, especially at The Schwabenhof. Dad proudly worked at Parker Pen for nearly 30 years, and, while there, played on their sports teams and enjoyed lots of Parker-sponsored parties. He was an active member of First Lutheran Church, ushering and serving on various committees, and especially enjoyed volunteering as part of their Wilson School Breakfast Club. Later in retirement, he taught driving through Rock Valley Driving School. Mom and Dad enjoyed road trips to Gays Mills and New Glarus and of their many vacations, Normandy, Alaska, and Mexico were a few of Dad's favorites. Dad was a natural athlete, a dry wit and a sweet and gentle guy, always interested to hear how others were doing and happily yielding the spotlight. He enjoyed sports, especially his St. Louis Cardinals, the Green Bay Packers, and golfer Steve Stricker. He liked to follow politics and current events, go to the movies, read, and golf. Back in the day, Dad's idea of "roughing it" was a vacation with no nearby newsstand. More than anything, Dad enjoyed connecting one-on-one over a "cool one" on his deck or at a favorite watering hole. As a devoted Grandpa, he enjoyed attending the kid's sporting events, dance recitals and plays.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 62 years, Magda; children: Dean (Michelle), Mark (Tammy), Karen and David. He is further survived by his nine grandchildren: Heidi (Mike) Bernhardt, Tim, Evan, Pierce, Samantha, Sarah, Alexa, Kylie and Harry: four great-grandchildren: Owen, Megan, Easton and Elliott; his sister, Joan (Joe) Dongarra of Sarasota, FL; many nieces; nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents; and sister Ruth.
In light of COVID-19, a private family service will be held to honor Dad's memory. Donations in Gene Nelson's name can be made to Rotary Gardens, ECHO or a charity of your choice. The Whitcomb-Lynch Funeral Home is assisting the family with services.
The family would like to thank Agrace HospiceCare and the wonderful caregivers at Oak Park Place, especially Ally whose kind attention the family appreciated during those final days.